How to Get a Refund for Tokyo 2020 Olympics Tickets After Games Postponed Until Next Year

The International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to postpone the Olympic Games until next year because of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak has left million of ticket holders scrambling to find out whether they are entitled to a refund or whether tickets will be valid next year.

On Tuesday, Tokyo 2020 organizers and the IOC made the decision to postpone the Games until 2021, rather than holding the games between July 24 and August 9 this year. The Paralympic Games have been moved from their initial schedule but a new date has not been decided.

With the exception of the two world wars, the Olympics had never been canceled or postponed since they began in their modern iteration in 1896.

"We agreed that a postponement would be the best way to ensure that the athletes are in peak condition when they compete and to guarantee the safety of the spectators," Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters after speaking with IOC President Thomas Bach on Tuesday.

In a joint statement, the IOC and Tokyo organizing committee said the Games "must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community."

What does the postponement mean for ticket holders?

According to official figures, approximately 5.08 million of the total 7.8 million tickets have been sold, since tickets first went on sale in June. Tickets were made available to the Japanese public as well as to international fans, with the latter being sold by authorized resellers appointed by national Olympic committees.

As is often the case for events of this size, tickets sold to fans outside Japan have been bundled together in travel packages. Olympic tickets in the U.S. are sold by CoSport, on whose website tickets for selected events remained available as usual at the time of writing.

On its website, CoSport states that the purchaser "may apply for a refund to the company [CoSport] under the parameters outlined in the Tokyo Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games Terms and Conditions." On Tokyo 2020's official website, however, only a handful of events are available for a refund, on August 2 and August 9.

Will ticket holders be refunded?

Last week, Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper quoted members of Tokyo's organizing committee as saying tickets may not be refundable, due to a provision in the Terms and Conditions for purchasing the tickets.

"Tokyo 2020 shall not be liable for any failure to perform any obligation under the Terms and Conditions to the extent that the failure is caused by a Force Majeure," the clause states.

The terms define force majeure as, "Any cause beyond Tokyo 2020's reasonable control, including, without limitation, acts of God, war, insurrection, riot, civil disturbance, acts of terrorism, fire, explosion, flood, theft, malicious damage, strike, lockout, weather, third party injunction, national defense requirements, public health emergency, and acts or regulations of national or local governments".

Organizers subsequently played down the report, however.

What about flights to Japan?

For those who have purchased flight tickets to Japan separately from Olympic tickets, the standard cancellation rules apply. Tickets that are refundable and include cover against cancellation will be refunded, while most airlines will roll over non-refundable tickets as a form of credit to be used from within a year — sometimes longer — of purchase of the original flight.

Newsweek has contacted both CoSport and the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee for comment.

Tokyo 2020, coronavirus
A man wearing a face mask, amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, walks past a countdown display for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with a notice which reads in Japanese "Under adjustment" in Tokyo on March 25. Japan started the unprecedented task of reorganising the Tokyo Olympics after the historic decision to postpone the world's biggest sporting event due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic that has locked down one third of the planet. Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty